"We're both so messed up. I don't know which one of us is worse."
- Duane Bradley, Basket Case

Monday, September 28, 2009

Essential Viewing For Halloween - The Classics: Part One!

October is right around the corner! As if I needed more of a reason, it's another excuse to watch even more horror movies. So in anticipation of one of my favorite months of the year, I figured I'd dust off another entry from my younger days (Oct. 2005, I believe) to get in the spirit of Halloween.

Looking back on this list, it obviously occurs to me that it's nothing groundbreaking, but it reminds me of why I love some of the more popular classic horror films: it's because they're damn good. And as a disclaimer, these aren't necessarily my favorite movies of all time (although some fall in that category); rather, some of the best ones to watch as autumn draws near. Oh yeah, and don't be pissed because stuff like Phantasm or The Exorcist didn't make the list - it goes without saying they could have easily made it.

Also, as we get closer to the 31st, I want to come up with another list of more obscure films for the holiday, and I already have a few in mind. So keep your eyes open for it!

Some might say that Christmas is "the most wonderful time of the year," but I beg to differ.

Putting up a fake evergreen tree and getting presents in December is great and everything, but if I had to choose between that or dressing up in Halloween costumes and having some good old-fashioned hi-jinks with friends, I'd have to choose the latter.

Perhaps a more important reason, however, is the whole atmosphere of All Hallows' Eve. The trees are bare, the weather is cold and windy, and the days are shorter. All of these factors create the perfect setting one should immerse themselves in when getting into the Halloween spirit and watching a horror movie.

Now I'm a huge horror movie fan and I watch them year round, but there is nothing better than popping an old favorite into my DVD player towards the end of October and soaking it all in. It's heaven I tell you.

So given my background, I feel like I would be committing a grave injustice if I didn't impart my divine wisdom in these matters for those of you who are horror movie-deficient. In order to do so, I will provide you with what I consider to be a definitive list of classic horror movies that one should see to celebrate Halloween. I could have easily made a top 20, or a top 50 list for that matter, but there is only so much time between now and the 31st, so I'll cut everyone a break.

With that said, here are the Holy Grail of horror movies, the cream of the crop, the top 10 list I consider to be required viewing for Halloween.

10. The Beyond (1981) - Although this film may be the least-known on the list, that shouldn't prevent you from checking out Italian director Lucio Fulci's supernatural zombie gore-fest. What the movie lacks in plot it more than makes up for with its surreal, dreamlike atmosphere and soundtrack. Creative death scenes, many of which deal with Fulci's eye fetish (those who have had the pleasure of seeing Zombie can attest to it), include death by spiders, acid and a shotgun blast to a young girl's head. Yes, you heard right: a little girl gets her head blown off.

9. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) - One of director Wes Craven's most popular films (and arguably one of his best, behind The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes), ANOES introduces us to the infamous Freddy Krueger, the child murderer who is killed by angry parents but comes back to terrorize kids in their dreams. Featuring a truly terrifying concept (imagine not being able to sleep for fear of being killed) and a mean-spirited villain who manages to be both funny and scary, it's no wonder the movie spawned six sequels (seven, if you count Freddy Vs. Jason) and is ingrained in the hearts and minds of many horror fans.

8. The Evil Dead (1981) - While the majority of the college circuit has only heard of the third movie in the franchise, Army of Darkness, The Evil Dead is one of the most innovative low-budget horror movies ever made. Sam Raimi's directorial debut tells the tale of five young adults (one of which is Ash, played by B-movie star Bruce Campbell) who spend their vacation at a cabin in the middle of the woods. When one of them reads from the Book of the Dead that they find in the basement, all hell breaks loose with very bloody results. One of the more unique moments in the film: a demonically possessed tree rapes a girl. Gives new meaning to the term "getting wood," don't you think? Bah-dum-ching!

7. Fright Night (1985) - This modern-day take on the classic vampire tale relies on its strong cast of characters, tight plot, and memorable '80s soundtrack (especially during the night club scene). When teenager Charley Brewster finds out his next-door neighbor is a creature of the night, he realizes that only washed-up TV star Peter Vincent can help him save the day before it is too late. The movie boasts one of the most charming, sexually-charged vampire villains of the decade, Jerry Dandridge (played by the always suave Chris Sarandon).

6. The Thing (1982) - John Carpenter's claustrophobic thriller features groundbreaking special makeup effects by Rob Bottin and an all-star cast (Kurt Russell and Keith David, to name a few). When an alien life form starts taking over members of a scientific expedition in Antarctica, the tension and paranoid begin to run so thick you can almost cut it with a knife. For a film made before CGI, not enough can be said about how truly awe-inspiring Bottin's effects work is, especially in the scenes when the alien takes over the dogs' bodies, and when one unlucky guy's head separates from his body.

Stay tuned for part two tomorrow!

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